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    Slim-Fast And How Not To Design A Site

    When looking at a web site process, such as registration, it doesn’t take much testing to figure out that the answer is always less.

    What information should we collect?  Less.  What questions should we ask?  Less.  How many steps should there be in checkout?  Less.  Less.  Less.  You get the idea.  The reason is that each step or bit of information, or whatever is another obstacle that the visitor has to overcome to convert.  Why add things that actually prevent the visitor from taking the desired action?  Because you’re greedy.  That is the only answer.  If you do not have a guest checkout, you’re greedy.  If you force someone to put in their address when signing up for an account to access ‘premium website features’ you’re greedy.  You only need an address to ship.  Don’t be greedy.

    I was looking over a Slim-Fast package and saw this box that lets you “customize your weight loss journey”.  It sounded interesting.  I’m not overly concerned about my current weight, but was curious anyway so when I had a chance I decided to check out the site.

    This custom weight loss plan is on the homepage.  Like dead center on the homepage.  You can’t really miss the red “Register Now” button.

    The Slim-Fast Homepage

    The Slim-Fast Homepage

    At this point, for me personally, I was already a bit hesitant.  I’m thinking to myself, why are they calling it “register” and not “Get Your Plan Now” or at least something that doesn’t sound as impersonal as “register now”.

    Anyway, because I was interested I click through anyway.  Point them.  But look at the ridiculous amount of information (click to enlarge) they demand from the visitor (in this case me):

    Register And Join Our Community

    So here I am, all interested is seeing what Slim-Fast can do for me and this is what they give me.  It is about the worst possible experience I could imagine.  But, I pressed on.  I really wanted to see what this “customized plan” was going to be.  So, like any person who has no interest in giving out tons of information for no reason, I filled in the stuff with a bunch of junk info.

    Boy did they get me.  After I took the time to fill the whole long form out (albeit with bad info) they don’t even give me the plan.  They e-mail it to me.  Well, I didn’t put in an actual e-mail address so it when to some random person.  At that point I just lost interest.  I could not go on.

    So with all of this in mind, what was Slim-Fast looking to gain with all of that information?  Would they mail me crap I didn’t want?  Just e-mail me the coupon.  What could they possible need all that information for?  Invasive marketing was my only thought and that is why I gave them bad information.  I don’t want to be invaded upon any more than I can help.  But the bigger miss here is what they lost.

    Sure, they lost my interest but they lost something much more than that.  They lost my money.  Imagine, here is a customer all set to lose weight.  They not only want to lose weight, they want to lose it with Slim-Fast.  And beyond that, they not only want to lose it with Slim-Fast, but they want a diet plan from Slim-Fast that will – in all likelihood – contain a fair amount of Slim-Fast product.  From snack bars to meal bars to shake powder to a shake-in-a-can.  And then different flavors of all of those things.  This was a free pass for Slim-Fast to sell a lot of product to a customer that wanted to be sold to.

    Instead of taking this easy money, instead of helping me toward my personal weight loss goal – and using Slim-Fast to do it, which I would certainly tell my friends about -, instead of any of that they got a visitor that was just pissed at them.  I wrote them a letter telling them how bad of a site they had and pointed out the huge opportunity they were missing out on.  After several weeks I have not got a response.  This is not how you build your brand.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Give information about your product freely.  Get a customer to engage with your product for free.  If you are a quality product they will be more than happy to give you the rest.

    In fact, this is a perfect opportunity to quote the late founder of Lands’ End – Gary Comer (who was a billionaire – so yes, it works):

    Take care of the customer.  Take care of the employees.  The rest will take care of itself.

    Do you agree?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.

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